This year’s OFFF festival kicked on the 28th of May hosting arguably one of the best (if not the best) line up of speakers the festival has seen since it was launched fifteen years ago by respected graphic design visionary Héctor Ayuso.
The three day festival featured some of the biggest and most ground-breaking creative leaders within the design world; those whose work has pioneered art, branding, film, gaming, advertising in the format of print, digital and experiential experiences.
First up was the team behind the opening titles for OFFF by Atelier. The inspiration behind the compelling short film was the constant repetition of life and the need to not let this digression into routine consume us.
Headliner Stefan Sagmiester needs little introduction; his name is synonymous with modern day graphic design as a result of his inspirational, and often unorthodox work with clients such as HBO, the Rolling Stones and Lou Reed as well as his agency partnership with the jealousy-inducing talented Jessica Walsh. His talk had people filling every single seat as well as floor space, the whole audience enthralled by his talk dedicated to the importance of raising an emotion from design via the design; whether that be beauty or disgust for example. He honed in on the work of acclaimed artists such as Andy Warhol, Alfred Loos and Marcel Duchamp (the artist behind ‘Fountain‘, one of the most dividing pieces of art in modern times) who were renowned for stripping aesthetic from art. Sagmiester using their work as examples, projected his opinion about how this is can be considered counter-productive and installing the message as to why graphic design is so important.
UK born, NYC based artist Jon Burgerman set a comedic tone for his talk on the Thursday. He highlighted the universal appeal of art and the ability that one has to create either a sense of fun and/or a political/social statement. This was highlighted by his explanation behind his simple, yet statement short project entitled ‘Head Shots‘ whereby he took photos of himself next to movie posters depicting violent scenes and used Photoshop to paint himself getting shot. He also explained the need to not just feed off others to find inspiration but to give back in exchange. He cited the work of Jeff Koon’s ‘Play-Doh’, a 10ft tall aluminium structure which he used as inspiration for his miniature versions made of play-doh which, unlike Koon’s creation which took 20 years to construct, took him 20 seconds. He sold them outside the Koons exhibition for a mere fraction of the price allowing everyone to take home a little memory of the masterpiece they’d just viewed.
There was a roughly 50/50 split between those passionate to graphic design and those who were more in favour for motion video, and they weren’t disappointed. Polymath Robert Hodgin, who classifies himself as a ‘creative coder’ managed to captivate both sides of the audience in equal measures. His technical background combined with his passion for art formulates his creation of simulations with a focus on aesthetics. His journey into this world began by finding a way to remove the manual process from moving, duplicating and re-sizing images to create animation, defining a force itself. He detailed the process behind a piece entitled ‘Boil-Up‘ which he constructed for the Auckland War Memorial Museum to re-create the energetic display of a bait ball being targeted by prey from above, and below the sea water which results in a manic feeding frenzy.
The talks also included art and creative directors as well as owners behind some of the biggest, and notable names in the agency world. Speakers were on hand to offer advice based on the lessons they’ve learnt whilst progressing to the top of the game. A fundamental message which seemed to be the rhetoric for the event was do what you love and do a lot of it. Whether this be for your professional but also for your personal life as the two are intrinsically interlaced. ‘Structured Procrastination’ was the phrase coined by Montreal based Julien Vallée, one half of design studio Vallée Duhamel. He highlighted the importance of acknowledging that procrastination is ok – everyone is guilty of it from time to time. But at least, if one is going to succumb to it, attempt to find something that may not be directly linked to the work one is distracted from, but to something that can at least have some form of use for another purpose. Ultimately this is where ideas stem from.
Anton and Irene, the two owners and directors behind their self-titled agency shared also their advice having worked at a world-renowned agency as directors before going solo (or double as it were) and establishing their own studio. They specified the need to be honest with oneself when it comes to choosing clients to work with. They iterated that if you are not passionate about the project in question it not only damages the client, but you too: a lose-lose situation for all involved. In addition they emphasised the need to gather feedback in an organised, structured manner and to not be afraid to tell the clients when they are not working in the most productive, nor efficient way.
As many of you who attended will know, Fotolia were present at OFFF, participating in a shared booth with our fellow Adobe team mates, showcasing the creative benefits of using Adobe software as well as giving everyone a chance to create their own professional photo in the aptly named ‘Fotolia Photo Booth’. Find out more about our presence at OFFF here.